ALROSA plans to reclaim the tailings pit of processing plant No. 8 at its Aikhal Division by 2029 in a project worth over RUB2.5 billion ($34.3 million) that will seek to restore 650 ha of land and have it planted with pine forests, the diamond miner says.
The tailings pit is located 1.2 km southwest of the village of Aikhal (pictured) in the Sokhsolookh River valley in Yakutia, Russia. The decision to reclaim the facility followed the completion of mining at the Komsomolsky open pit and the closure of processing plant No. 8 at the end of 2020.
During the plant’s operations, tailings were stored in the tailings pit as a liquid slurry. In terms of environmental danger, the slurry belongs to the lowest hazard waste category (virtually non-hazardous waste or category 5 under the Russian Federal Law on Industrial and Consumer Waste), ALROSA says. The tailings pit was a key hydrotechnical facility ensuring water recirculation at the processing plant: after the slurry settled in the pit, clarified water was fed back into the plant to be re-used in processing diamond ore, the company explained.
The reclamation project will be implemented in two stages.
The first stage will include draining the pit and restoring a part of the original course of the Sokhsolookh River back to its natural state.
Later on, from 2025 to 2029, the tailings facility will be dismantled, and work will be carried out to improve the land, dig drainage ditches, install waterproofing, lay fertile soil and landscape the area. To achieve this, 160,000 Scots Pine seeds have been sown in 2021 in a disused sand and gravel open pit not far from the Aikhal village. This conifer is not native to this area and does not grow locally on its own.
Once all the work is complete, the land beneath the tailings pit will be restored to its original condition and, as mentioned, over 650 ha of replanted area will be handed over to local authorities.